Marc Maron's comedy career flamed out, and he revived it by being himself: Doing what he knew how to do, which was to record himself talking with his friends, many of whom happened to be much more successful comedians, and then posting it to the web. For about 385 episodes, he's held forth on neuroses and resentments — his, that of his guests (often fellow comics), and on feuds, and feelings, and therapy. It's now one of the most listened-to podcasts in existence, and Maron has a new book and a TV show to show for his hard work.
The podcast may be archaic, but the format is producing some of the most innovative, most entertaining, most provocative content out there.
Here are four other personality podcasts you ought to be listening to.
Chelsea Peretti, 35, is a comic and writer who has been on the staff of Parks and Recreation and The Sarah Silverman Program. She takes phone calls on her show and makes fun of the callers, many of whom are witting participants. But she's smart, sharp, and well-regarded by other comics.
Alec Baldwin is, of course, Alec Baldwin, but it turns out that the actor is an incredible interviewer. His weekly podcast on WNYC is humane, literate, and often quite funny. He has interviewed everyone from Lorne Michaels to New York City's top corrections officer to Patti LuPone to Lena Dunham. Baldwin likes origin stories. Where did someone's sense of humor come from? What's the source of their ambition?
Kevin Pollak is a comic and actor (The Usual Suspects) best known for his impersonations. On Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, he has breezy but revealing conversations with inventors (Elon Musk), actors (Neil Patrick Harris), and, of course, many other comedians. And his impersonations — William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Woody Allen, and others are as funny as they were the first time you heard them.
Neal Brennan co-created the late, much missed Chappelle's Show for Comedy Central. His guests are sports-oriented, and the range of comics and actors he talks to is quite diverse, more so than some of the others.
I assume, incidentally, that if you like the comedy, you're already listening to Adam Carolla. Or you've got Howard Stern's two channels streaming on SiriusXM. Or Joe Rogan. Or a hundred others I could mention.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why isn't 'Arkansas' pronounced like 'Kansas'?
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- Internet piracy isn't killing Hollywood
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- Congress' craven approach toward the war on ISIS
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Is the Christian music industry liberalizing on gay marriage?
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
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